World YMCA joins the #SpeakYourMind initiative

Date: 21 May 2019

More than 75% of people living with mental health difficulties in low and middle-income countries do not receive any appropriate treatment or care. To address this lack of action, World YMCA has joined a new global campaign called “Speak Your Mind”. The campaign focuses on mental health needs, and pledges for open discussions and clear objectives to tackle mental health illnesses, at a social, governmental and international level. Fifteen countries have already signed up to this initiative, as well as many partners across the world.

Secretary General Carlos Madjri Sanvee was present at the launch event held in Geneva on Sunday 19 May. He met many other partners including World Health Organisation Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, United for Global Mental Health CEO Elisha London, and Born This Way Foundation President and co-founder Cynthia Germanotta, which was launched alongside her daughter Stefani (also known as Lady Gaga).

Carlos mentioned that at times it takes dramatic events, like the suicide of a relative or close friend, for people to realise how serious mental health difficulties are. “But do we need that to happen before we raise our awareness, and to realise that mental health is equally important as physical health?” he questioned. “We are human beings, we have hearts, we are feeling things, and we should be able to connect to the people suffering around us. This is what World YMCA wants to bring to the table”.

Cynthia Germanotta shared her experience as a mother facing her daughter’s mental struggles, and she said: “On the average, less than 2% of countries’ budget is spent on mental health and we feel this is unacceptable. It should at least be 5%”.

A number of activists and campaigners also spoke out and shared their views on fighting for better mental health care in their countries: Anto Lecky and Korede Bello from Nigeria, Reverend Bill Jallah from Liberia and Leo Hoponoa from Tonga. The event ended with a joyful dance led by African drums to celebrate the gathering and to look forward to a positive future.

For more information about the Speak Your Mind campaign visit